May 2018 CAREGiver of the Month - Bonnie


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Client Says Bonnie Is IndispensableCAREGiver of the Month - Bonnie

An 88-year-old client often tells CAREGiver of the Month Bonnie McIntosh, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.” For her part, Bonnie has never missed a day in three years with the 24/7 client nor has Bonnie ever been late during a shift that includes a one-hour, 20-minute trip to the client’s picturesque riverside acreage.

Bonnie explained: “I was her first CAREGiver, so there has been good bonding. My client is like a mom to me. I actually spend more time with her than with my own mom. But to be clear, I love my mom, who is doing well at age 79 and lives by herself.”

She added: “This does not seem like a job because I love to get up and go to work. Some people don’t like their jobs, but I do. I try to go above and beyond the call of duty. I keep busy because she has a big house, and I want my client to be active, to live as good a life as she can. She uses a walker and walks laps down a long hallway three or four times a day. She likes her independence and doesn’t like new CAREGivers, so we keep a pretty tight group.”

Bonnie’s client enjoys the sunshine and loves to listen to the sounds of the birds and other nature near the North Fork Shenandoah River from a huge patio with a pergola and screened-in porch. The client’s tiny beagle, Rusty, also is a pleasant part of the responsibilities. “I help with Rusty’s care. He’s got our schedules down pat and starts barking right before another CAREGiver comes. He is a good companion, and she’s had him for four years,” Bonnie said.

“I take her to get her hair done on Monday mornings, and her son picks up the groceries and her medications. I am with her on holidays and try to make them special. I prepare big dinners, and her son comes. My first year there was the first year she had a Christmas tree up in 15 years, probably since her husband died in 2000. For Memorial Day, we’ll have a cookout with hamburgers.”

The client, who likes to play solitaire, is a big Fox News fan and impresses Bonnie with her knowledge of Fox personalities. “She knows the voices of the anchors and commentators. She could listen all day long, but I try to get her moving. She listens to classical music to get to sleep,” noted Bonnie, a senior-care professional and family caregiver for many years. Her twin sister worked as a Home Instead CAREGiver for seven years in nearby Reston, Virginia.

In September 2014, Bonnie joined Home Instead Senior Care® of Winchester, a franchise that serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley, including 25 other communities. Before coming to Home Instead, Bonnie worked for another agency and later had the same private-duty client for 11 years. When the client passed away, Bonnie had no one else to assist.

“I love the clients, and the people in the office are wonderful. Once you get to know the clients’ wants and needs, you are your own boss to manage the situation and keep the clients safe and happy. I’ve had quite a few clients,” said Bonnie, who has been certified in three Alzheimer’s classes and has plenty of other training. She has helped a client who hallucinates sometimes with a condition that mimics Lewy body dementia. “Out of frustration and anxiety, the client will sometimes say, ‘Nobody trusts me or loves me.’ I will sit with her, talk to her and reassure her. During our talk, she settles down and accepts my word that we’re on her side.”

Bonnie experienced a family tragedy four years ago while preparing for  her son’s wedding. Her dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer May 9, 2014, and died 11 days later at age 74. Bonnie spotted her dad’s symptoms while she was with him one day as a family caregiver.

“I got him to the doctor, but it was too late. He had been in and out of the hospital for four months, and they had not found the cancer. He knew something was wrong but did not want to worry us, so he quietly got all his papers in order. He did not want to be a burden. I was with him on the night he died at home,” Bonnie recalled.

“He wanted a loved one to take care of him, so I had to stop hospice and take over. Dad wanted only me. Our son got married that weekend, too, on May 24, and I had promised to handle the rehearsal dinner, which I did with the help of a caterer. Dad wanted to make it to the wedding and hung tough, but it just wasn’t to be. I went from a funeral to a wedding. That’s life – you just try to handle everything as it comes along.”

All Home Instead Senior Care CAREGivers are screened, trained, bonded and insured. For inquiries about employment, please call 540-722-8750 or apply online. For further information about our home care services, please visit Home Instead Senior Care​.​​​​​

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